Worcester – a hive of poets I met the lovely Steve Wilson, who is in charge of the event at The Hive and stayed in an old inn with sloping floors (who let me eat fish and chips in my room while I got ready because I was short of time). My poetry highlights: Catherine Crosswell’s lively style that jumped between weird and dark and funny made her a perfect person to start the evening. Her tape measure that measures arms lengths is genius. I can safely say Jasmine Gardosi’s take on the space theme to produce a piece about a family dying carbon-monoxide poisoning will probably be the only one. It was! Loved the way Neil Laurenson came on after the strange storm that is Jasmine and kicked off with a gentle intro poem where ‘he was so softly spoken that they thought he was miming’ My non-poetry highlights: Mike Alma’s beautiful war post-cards and his two header poem with Moira. Meeting Adrian Mealing who was as lovely as our email correspondence had suggested. The lines that stuck with me: ‘Our emotions are carried on F sharps and B flats. I let you carry me on melody alone. Cello notes absorb the darkness.’ Nina Lewis From Teaching your daughter to crack eggs ‘Tell her to remember not all broken things are wrong’ Claire Walker Again finding it so hard not include every poet – another showcase! Halifax – A den of poets My poetry highlights: Simon Zonenblick and Freda Mary Davis both performed full space-themed poetry sets to kick off the tour! And Simon’s ‘grottoes holed out of the tangles’. Nasser Hussain’s set and the fact he stood in at such short notice (3 hours!). Loved Gaia Holmes’ idea of going up to the wind-farm to scream. ‘We stopped trying to talk and raised our arms and screamed…….’ My non-poetry highlights: Arriving in Halifax four hours early expecting to find something to do – the only recommendations I got from locals were pubs! Staying with Steve Nash meant having someone to share the mini bottle of prosecco with and the poetry buzz that always keeps me up until at least 1am! We had got to know each other through interviews online – I think his on me ran at about five pages of A4! I then fired some questions back to even things out a bit. He was just as I imagined from his banter and grilling. The lines that stuck with me: From, Lass Grenade– ‘less of a woman and more of a lass grenade’ Geneviève L Walsh on Midnight Shelley. From, Cuckoo ‘They name bars after illness around here’ John Darwin Exeter – A coven of poets – hard to review – I want to mention every one! My co-host, Alasdair Paterson was brilliant and lively and his poetry was entrancing: In Pier Head, Liverpool is ‘a good place to get your heart broken and find a song to patch it.’ My poetry highlights: Hannah Linden’s poem The Stars Are Cherry Stones that Have Lost Their Colour that was about her son and how “The idea/of no one counting up to the beginning of time frightens him” Matt Harvey: After hearing Where earwigs dare where Matt ‘first went freelance, then gently feral.’ I want my own shed to go feral in. His time lapse love story with flowers was genius and reminded me of one of my favourite authors, Magnus Mills. Rebecca Gethin: in Owlography published in Three drops from a Cauldron ‘valleys of their anatomy, tours of their feathers’ ‘calls rip apart the vertebrae of stars pencilled on to the night of this map’. My non-poetry highlights: Staying the Jean Brodie room with separate Brodie bath-room and the fact this meant The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was in my bedside cabinet and I had to buy a second copy to read on the train back. The fabric and flair of the Witches’ Ball that was the same night as our event – they became a little raucous near the end but added something to the night too. The lines that stuck with me: ‘lurking in dark, he was badger, dust-scuffed and branch-strewn, sunrise turned him into a dazzled vole’ Susan Jordan From These threads are the singing: ‘the curse of being melts from you in torrents.’ Gram Joel-Davies ‘all scuttle and fluff’, wild boar ‘all snuffle and bristle’, beavers ‘all chisels and paddles’ Mark Totterdell In case you might have missed this. I am determined to make at least four events happen next year. Pledge here to help and get great rewards: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-quiet-compere-poetry-and-gallery-tour-2016
Firstly, an apology to the poets at both 52 gatherings I organised around the tour dates. I fully intended to write in-depth reviews of these events, but life and other poetry admin got solidly in the way, to a point when it felt like an after-thought. I loved every minute of the Manchester gathering at The Lloyds and the Exeter gathering at The City Gate from the moment Jinny Fisher arrived with a smudge of berry on her new jumper (and proceeded to pour almost a full cup of coffee down her pale tan trousers). Check out the tour video and pledge or share to support Quiet Compere 2016 here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-quiet-compere-poetry-and-gallery-tour-2016 Three dates on the 2015 tour were sold out – a couple were small venues and brought their own character and became like an eleventh performer (twelfth if you count the compere!). Durham – A wash of poets The Old Cinema Laundrette in Durham was a very cosy space and for the size of audience we were with I was torn between feeling the audience had an exclusivity due to the fact only 40 could attend that event and thinking it was possibly a bit uncomfortable for a two hour poetry event where only half of the audience could be seated. I was comfortable cross-legged on the floor, but I know this is not ideal for everyone. My poetry highlights: Ira Lightman’s dating poems. Ira had become a friend at the beginning of the 2014 tour in a Manchester pub for two hours the day before my first gig away from home in York. He provided much needed distraction and we have stayed in touch since then. I had never seen him perform live until Durham though. Jessica Wortley’s poems from As if we were the trees. Everyone one stunning. With lines like, ‘for her, the width of the sky would never quite be big enough’ and ‘the wind would steal her breath,/ but it would not matter,/ for she would not need words’. I had forgotten about this and it will now be added to my Christmas wish list. http://rubywolfpress.com/authors-2/ My non-poetry highlights: Staying with Judi Sutherland and Big Frank. Main memories involve a massive cheese toastie when we got back from the event and bolognese and wine before I caught the train back. The line that stuck with me: ‘To touch the cache in the dark of you’ (Michael Brown) is a line that grabbed me from and keeps returning. Oxford – a milling of poets Dennis of the Albion Beatnik Bookshop was welcoming and obviously used to running this type of event. I checked where the venue was in the afternoon so I wouldn’t get there late and then totally mistrusted my sense of direction and followed Google walking Maps on my phone which took me to the Pitts River Museum (which was shut) rather than to the venue. I arrived to find half the poets happily milling around in their natural habitat. My poetry highlights: Ben Parker: The magical poem about ‘fashioning your searching hand into an approximation of the lost object’ and ‘the way to hold your hands for love’ was potent. Hearing Samir Guglani read a poetry set: ‘Look at how we start, like fortune-tellers, at the hands. Here by the window, where ward meets world, I examine this man’s, turn them over like found leaves.” Samir Guglani is the curator of the incredible and stunning conference, Medicine Unboxed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicine_Unboxed I have seen him mastermind this four times, but had only seen him perform one or two poems of his own. It was good to see him outside the Medicine Unboxed mania and relaxed. My non-poetry highlights: So many poets going on afterwards for snacks or meals somewhere local and at least half of us onto a bar until late. Meaning I could share the poetry buzz I often while away on Facebook or looking through feedback forms with a mini bottle of Prosecco in a basic B and B room. Also, Sarah Bryson brought me a small glass vase with wild flowers as a gift. As I was traveling back by train I decided to leave flowers around Oxford on the way home the next day. So I left a rose on a bike, some cow parsley in a phone box and weaved cornflowers through the railings of a disused toilet. The lines that stuck with me: ‘The house is dragged apart by the absence of your smiles.’ Claire Trevien ‘Wealth hopes us into a corner.’ Hilda Sheehan ‘Peat and iodine burn of a single malt drunk from an antique flask’ Alan Buckley Norwich – A ‘variousness’ of poets (I know it is a variety, but I prefer this!) I knew very few poets in Norwich and Julia Webb pointed me the way of most of the poets I found and told me a bit about them all. I attempted to book as a varied a line-up as I could and succeeded. Every poet in the Norwich line-up had a different style, approach and theme. Kept the audience engaged and I thought there were only three types of poet until that night made me reassess my thinking. My poetry highlights: I loved Ramona Herdman’s drink poems: ‘You look like you know the way out of the weight of the world.’ More drink theme from Julia Webb: “You are on fire. You have accidently swallowed the sun… you could drink an ocean. You settle for a double vodka. The Sun approves.” And as well as being an excellent co-host Rufus Lunn gave us The Sentinel: “I swear by sword, or word or kiss. I will stand. Still.” My non-poetry highlights: Finding out the local chippy delivered to the pub The Bird Cage and meeting Rufus (co-host and Robbie (tech)) before the event. A short wander in the lane. I will be back. However, it is not somewhere you can easily find yourself by mistake from Manchester! The lines that stuck with me: “sheets of newspaper cartwheeling to mishap.” Richard Lambert. “I embrace the deeper parts of my unravelling.” Bimble Bee, Huni Bee. “It behaved like any wounded thing.” From Stuart Charlesworth’s medical set. The Quiet Compere Tour is ‘Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’
I will start with a link to my guest blog on Sarah Snell-Pym’s site (more about here below) that explains why the final was in Cheltenham, several reasons including it being the first place I ran an event away from home (somewhere I had never been and knew no-one in the area) four years ago and I have run them yearly since – the night before Medicine Unboxed and a little about what that is and why I keep going back. Guest blog: http://wopowrimo.wigglypets.co.uk/?p=802 Celebration of Quiet Compere so far video and crowd-funder: See the outcome of my one-week self-taught crash-course in video-making in this video about the tours with photos, quotes, chat and the story of the rainbow scarf here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-quiet-compere-poetry-and-gallery-tour-2016/ Kiran Millwood Hargrave: Twitter: @Kiran_MH Kiran told us a story about Tiberius being rubbed to death with scales of a fish. “rubbed til we bled each other out and lay milk-eyed on marble.” I liked how she engaged with the space by mentioning the pomegranate wallpaper and the line “something like happiness misting our epiphany.” I loved her pig with a “tassel of a tail”. Website: http://www.kiranmillwoodhargrave.co.uk/ Chris Hemingway: Chris, so understated with impact here: “maybe all these nothings added up to something and maybe that was me.” And in your poem about Personal space: “fools himself he is passing through, he spreads books across the adjoining seats.” The Supremes “lyric with a sub-text of abandonment.” A poem here: http://threedropspoetry.co.uk/2015/10/07/rumplestiltskin-by-chris-hemingway/ Sharon Larkin: I was impressed Sharon did a full space set. She explored the sexual appetite of an alien in Venit, vidit, fugit ‘He came suddenly. / Departed in an instant / leaving a note: / “Recalled to my native galaxy. / Thanks for all the probings”‘. And from Island Fever: ‘I chart the tide’s ebb, flow / ebb, flow / as a heartbeat’ and ‘hope appears to rise with each dawn’. Her blog, Coming up with the Words, is at: https://sharonlarkinjones.wordpress.com Dan Cooper: I was pulled into the refrain in Infinity Pool: “Mum drives us to school. Dad’s got an Infinity Pool.”. and a phrase that grabbed me was “harnessed in drama”. I have said it over out-loud several times just now – it feels good. “Holy runs thick like Tewkesbury mustard.” and “Forgive me because I have sinned. I took my own sweets into the cinema.” I do that and always feel guilty! Ian Whiteley: I always enjoy Ian’s Craiglockhart and 666 poems and the rhyming of ‘cat in’ and ‘latin’. Ian’s page is here: http://www.thecrowsofalbion.com/ New tracks here: https://soundcloud.com/the-man-at-the-back-1/ Brenda-Read Brown Brenda performed three pieces about landing on the moon, with the line from one of them being: “If I could slip through the lace of clouds below.” and suitably for Quiet Compere “nothing is all there is/ and silence feels as if it’s loud.” She also performed a piece about the space left by a teenager who has moved out: ” broken jewellery, like teenage tears,/ has become one with the carpet near the door.” “It takes me two full days to clear each room and yet they’ll never quite be empty, because I don’t want to forget.” http://www.brendaread-brown.co.uk/ Michael Scott: I love Michael’s punchline in My neighbour speaks in Daily Mail headlines and the way it is easier to avoid conflict and “I said (LONG PAUSE) You missed a bit!”. His poem My Dad painted by Francis Bacon was striking “We wait all night for 3 studies of the human head to dry back into my Dad.” I heard the rooms joint intake of breath at that point. Find out more about Michael here: http://www.littleusherette.com/ Sarah Snell-Pym Sarah is obsessed with space and even bought a space dress and made a space pamphlet of poems for the occasion and gave me one with a dedication in to The Quiet Compere! Brilliant! In her poem Microcosm “in a puddle patterns are repeating. In the stars patterns are completing.” Onward to the edge. ” A code within a code/a mystery that is never solved/It is the universe that unfolds. “We find questions to answer another time.” http://www.snell-pym.org.uk/sarah/ Peter Wyton Peter performed a poem about the beginning of time, Back to the Drawing Board “They wanted oceans/so I gave them oceans/They befouled them/and made a cesspool of the Seven seas… Now they want space. I’ll give them space/ and in the void/I’ll give it a second try/Any God can make a mistake.” Disposal upon pre-request was funny. ” Let the Severn do what it likes with me. Be a devil. Drop the urn in as well and sod the environment agency.” https://peterwytonpoet.wordpress.com/ Mark Blayney “Playing chess, you stripped to distract me. An illegal move.” Mark’s space was the space left behind by a person: “You left your jeans on the radiator and I woke finding half of you.” Shakespeare results read like Football Pools had a receptive audience! He read a poem about his son: “my son destroys flowers. He does it with such love – bringing me the pieces.” http://markblayney.weebly.com/ Sharon’s husband also took some photos to relieve me of one task in the evening. It was a pleasure to be able to listen, time and take notes, without having to get a good shot (I take about 40 per poet) of each performer. Extra thanks also got to Dan Cooper for his simple and striking design of Quiet Compere logo and flyers. The finale. So this is it for 2015. Or is it? I will be doing my summing up of the year in three parts like I did in 2014. Looks out for these posts in the weeks before New Year’s Eve. Have a Happy festive season. xxx Michael Scott on Quiet Compere format: “it was a lovely intimate night. I love the ‘Quiet Compere’ approach, there is so much fluff and noise attached to poetry that sometimes it just seems like a jumble of achievements and posing, minimalism wins every time for me.”
The Bird Cage had a chippy that delivered to the venue. Happy Sarah installed with fish and chips and a Punk IPA. As Catherine Woodward was not available as the date moved nearer, she massively helped promote it but left me in the trustworthy hands of Rufus Lunn. Rufus was a lovely co-host and helped the event run smoothly as did Robbie (Tech for The Bird Cage), the venue was just the right size for the event. Every poet in the Norwich line-up had a different style, approach and theme. Kept the audience engaged and I thought there were only three types of poet until that night made me reassess my thinking. Ramona Herdman: @ramonaherdman The line that particularly struck me was “You look like you know the way out of the weight of the world” Loved all Ramona’s drink poems and the line “you hope it is a genie, but it is more like a ship.” And the poem about her Dad: ‘I leave a glass of Bells out at night – like kids, / I hope, still do for Father Christmas. It makes / the morning smell of you.’ Sophie Essex: @furlinedghettos Sophie’s set was sex themed, particularly the lines “somethings mouthed into her as though she is an orchard pregnant with tomorrow’s architecture” and love the juxtaposition of the care and the surrender in “red lips and wild caution.” Stuart Charlesworth: Stuart’s set was a medically tainted set. Having been a histology and post mortem secretary for 17 years and only ever known hospitals and hospital offices as a work environment his poems felt familiar.“It behaved like any wounded thing.” “it manifested over 6 weeks like a patient ghost.” “A cocktail of chemicals in your brain mimicked a power the moon had over the sea.” And “Two doctor’s signatures trapped your name.” Julie Gardner: Julie surprised us by “twisting the key of self-destruct” and made me laugh by having a character wooed “with homemade bread and poetry” Who would that not win over? Rufus Lunn: @LiveAndLunn As well as being a funny, organised and bouncy co-host Rufus performed an excellent set. From The Sentinel: “I swear by sword, or word of kiss. I will stand. Still.” Wow! And in Berlin, “Enclose me in a barbed wire embrace and prove to me you can disappear a person.” Russell J Turner: http://www.soundcloud.com/russelljturner The ‘Locking up Dancers’ poem stunned me. “shaking your sadness at the sun’s mistake.” “doomed to be the unwed wife who paints the walls of Plato’s cave.” And in The Dead Start Fires was the line “The dead have the consolation…of the quiet and the flames because the dead play games.” Julia Webb: http://visual-poetics.blogspot.co.uk/ I enjoyed Julia’s sun theme. “You are on fire. You have accidently swallowed the sun… you could drink an ocean. You settle for a double vodka. The Sun approves.” I think the theme of drink ran somewhat deep in the sets on Thursday. The break-up poem “My account has been locked because of too many failed attempts.” Beautiful metaphor. And “The moon thinks of itself as an emergency.” Elizabeth Lewis Williams: https://elw0168.wordpress.com Elizabeth took us into Antarctic Convergence where “oxygen dances. It seems the water has swallowed the night sky.” “silence closes around the space you leave.” “slow spun tendrils of whale song.” and “Wilson’s petrels brooding over a universe of crushed stars.” Huni: No link available Huni was the hardest poet to make notes on because I was being pulled into the next line as I tried to note the one before. Lines I particularly like were “I am just a single breath in a hurricane, but I’m blowing though.” “I embrace the deeper parts of my unravelling.” “all the forests I burnt down creating space to plant new seeds.” “Let me at the horizon because I wanna soak up everything.” “I don’t wanna say too much, but I can never say enough, so I’ll let me actions do the talking and my tongue gather dust.” Richard Lambert: I loved the line from ‘Outskirts’ that has “sheets of newspaper cartwheeling to mishap.” And from ‘Swallow in the rain’ “ It is not that she likes me, more that the insects she likes rise at my heels.” I loved Norwich and the lanes and was reluctant to return home after a brief wander. I must go back for the poetry and the place.
I had an adventure on my way to The South Bank. Trying to find the shard I wandered into the familiar site of a Hospital (17 years in the NHS – I seem to be drawn to them) looking up and forwards all the time. I turned around and there was 100 stories of shard. Impressive and poetically non-existent! As I left the shard I decided to get myself a little lost and found a three hundred year old wooden staircase up to The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret. Give somewhere a title like that and you give a poet and an ex-medical secretary no option. I paid the entry fee and took notes and photos, peered into cabinets at ancient cures and sneaked into a sixth form lecture and was told off for answering a question about surgery (forgetting myself). Then I went to The Poetry Library alone, yet spent hours among friends and rediscovered the poetry magazines I love and those I dislike. I left with a renewed enthusiasm for sending entries to Interpreter’s House and Popshot and notes about many other publications and the type, length, style, subject matter they choose. All with me in ink. Then a trip on a London bus, a swift pint and to the Hackney Attic to soak in the buzz of another Picturehouse (The first Quiet Compere gig away from home was at York’s The Basement (one of The Picturehouses group). Clarissa Aykroyd: http://www.thestoneandthestar.blogspot.co.uk/ Clarissa captures a lack of choice beautifully with ‘He had to fly into the storm, because there was nothing but storm.” And from her Cairo poem “I am sky when I breathe, road when I run.” Loved the space between notes and Chopin poem and particularly the “Trace of stars across the keys.” Claire Collison: I worked at The Christie for 8 years as an Oncology Secretary and admire the honesty of patients sharing their experience, especially about the reactions of others: From Rules regarding leaning from windows the line: “they crave convention – all their mothers have highlights” and the gut-punch that here there is no hair to highlight and the final line “We all have nightmares of crones in orchards, don’t we?” I have a note about space being “leaky with joy”. Nicky Phillips: Tube poem – having been on enough in two days prior I appreciated this one. It was my first time traveling alone in London. In Circle Line, Nicky is “Deep below the chatter and excitement of a London Monday morning” “catch a smile – pin it to my face”. I enjoyed her Sunflowers that “bow this way and that, like a confident teenager”. Find two poems by Nicky here: http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/poetry-archive/january15a/ Tom Gill: Loved a lot of his word play: Especially in the poem about Fashion: “Just give them more choice/They’ll all be trying them on soon.” “Let’s invest in a dress for anorexic buyers. Bring out a new Size 5 and pretend that that’s fine.” from #Magazines https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcHH3Ecu71E Also, Intuition Fees here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8D-EYGHgGs Gary from Leeds: For Christmas Gary wants his own bus-stop countdown timer so “ people will view my future sitting down, as not just sitting down anymore, but sitting down with purpose.” and the Allen key “he’s called Allen, frankly it suits him.” In the Life Achievements of Big Dave, the Dave of the title “Downed ten snakebites, swam three lines of the resort’s septic tank, went out without a shower, talked his way into the VIP Room, without a guestlist.” Gary here at Evidently Salford: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNtmaNGbnWg Nina Simon: Loved the internet dating guy who took Nina “to a cheap Turkish diner in his dented Golf” though he had a Ferrari on his photo!” Her ‘space’ poem started… “Every night I stand at my window counting stars, one for each skeleton from my past” Natalie Shaw: Clytemnestra is steeped in passion and the raw anger “If you knew what it was to stretch yourself to fit a life, to watch a body you have made find itself and move and grow, you’d not make this, this nothing.” I also loved the line “It is when I describe you that things unravel” and in reminded me of talking about the parts of films that make me a cry and crying just talking about it. And a brilliant vision of all the babies watching the stars. “a whole new constellation just before baby massage began. ” Clytemnestra in Interpreter’s House Issue 58. http://www.theinterpretershouse.com/ https://andotherpoems.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/two-poems-by-natalie-shaw/ Susan Castillo: http://www.thesalamanderandtheraven.blogspot.co.uk/ The poem about the American South, Ruthie, was heart-wrenching – the “no-one shouted. No-one raised their voices.” I can see how that attitude would “break your heart and drive you crazy.”. Loved Bibliophiles version of heaven “Caress their spines… never stop at endings.” Susan’s second collection is called “Abiding Chemistry” (Kelsay Books) Math Jones https://twitter.com/MathJonesPoet Math was a gothic steamroller end to the evening in the best way possible. The lines that played me were “”…saw shoulders bright as the dripping moon at full.” “And I, with skin of broken scree.” “Saw colours deeper than the folded rose tipped with the beads of dew.” And “So naked with sorrow that I cannot raise my eyes to the sting of heaven.” All quotes are from the story of how Freya spent a night with each of four dwarf silversmiths, and was gifted the necklace, Brisingamen. https://www.facebook.com/notes/math-jones/freyja-in-fire-forged/10153179819384490?__mref=message I had bought some heart-patterned tights in Hackney and had had two days negotiating London with pride at avoiding crush-time on platforms and tubes. I asked directions to Whitechapel tube station and then tripped down a kerb in the middle of pavement. Who put that there? A short poem about clothing gathered on the tour (usually randomly because it is the item I forgot that time): Places dress me Small axes lie at my neck in Knutsford. Hull tattoos roses and lisianthus on my skin. Hackney ties my legs with trails of hearts trips me into the sting and pulse of playground knees. Leeds provides heels and feeds patent leather needs. Sarah L Dixon 2015 Never stop at endings! (Susan Castillo 2015)…
Having arrived a couple of hours early I took my book The Ghost Map with me and searched out some streets on the map from the cholera epidemic of 1854. It was eerie listening to the sewer noise on the streets that suffered so much from not having this infrastructure. I had a pint of ale in the John Snow (the safer drink of choice in 1854 as the brewery had a dedicated water supply and this was not contaminated by the Broad Street pump). I had a pootle around Soho and bought some badges –like a teenaged Sarah! Then the venue. Phoenix Artist Club has twenty different types of seats (including aeroplane seats) and a low and heavily fabric-draped ceiling making it feel like a cross between being inside settee and being hugged by a huge bear. Emma Simon Emma started the night with a poem about inappropriate shoes “We’ve all spent nights under glitter ball stars in red stilettos!”. In I loved the lines from The Circus of Possibilities “I’ve recruited women who dance with tigers and fire-eaters (perhaps too many fire-eaters).” and ” need the bite of winter on your skin, the struggle to pin down guy-ropes in a storm.” And I am not surprised The Parts of Ourselves We Leave With Former Lovers was commended in 2015 Battered Moons competition http://batteredmoons.com/2015-winners-and-commended-poets/ Laura McKee @Estlinin on Twitter In Laura’s space poem she says “I’ve lost the moon.” and “we all fall off the edge and get smaller.” In Secondary Modern you had perfect skin more space appears in the edible line “as if I were splattered with chocolate milk, as if I were made of stars.” Laura’s poem He asks me to call him was nominated as Best Single Poem in the Forward Prizes this year: http://neonmagazine.co.uk/?p=5710 Fran Isherwood http://www.franisherwood.co.uk/ From Safe as Houses “perspiration races down faces of lace-petticoated window panes.” and the story of the successful singer who gave it up to own a tripe shop in Bolton “..to the stages of London, Paris and Rome. but Bolton, Lancs, was always his home.” And a space clerihew or two: “Captain Kirk/Travelled to work/By being teleported/No traffic jams were reported.” http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/franisherwood Zelda Chappel http://zeldachappel.wordpress.com In Deciphering the sea for my baby so many lines grabbed me, these ones particularly, “she is the expanse we feel slipping through our digits. The clarity of cold would draw you up.” and ” a scream between two caves” “There are stories she needs to tell that don’t stop at fingertips”! From Love begins in Winter “so show/ me spring through tiny frames.” The Girl in the Dog-Tooth Coat by Bare Fiction is available here: http://www.barefictionmagazine.co.uk/buy/books/girl-dog-tooth-coat-zelda-chappel/ Joshua Seigal http://www.joshuaseigal.co.uk/ The line about the most embarrassing moment ever ” I wanted the sea to wash over me like a shallow rock pool and I never wanted to cuddle anyone again.” Ahhhh! He got a lot of empathy for that one. And the comment about his only audience being Mum and Dad – I think every poet knows that gig!! Loved his best heckle “if you were a monkey, what kind of astronaut would you be?” Susan Evans https://www.facebook.com/Susan-Evans-Performance-poet-485340264922817/ All of Susan’s poems that grabbed me are published so please have a read of #Irony about the person who could not afford to go on the austerity march here: http://proletarianpoetry.com/2015/08/25/irony-by-susan-evans/#more-1201 Silly Shoes is here: http://www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/pages/?p=7334 From her poem Brighton published in Prole 15 the line ‘It’s little London by the Sea, it’ Bombay Dreams, it’s Gay Paree!’ Cathy Dreyer No link available The poem for two voices with the contrast of the peril of not quite following a recipe correctly and life in balance was striking. And the poem about her girls: “life was so much heavier and faster than any one of us ever expected. We are their early universe. Trying to make the bouncing be dance.” Lucy Furlong http://www.lucyfurlong.com “Look at electric constellations, drifted into space, vanished, came down as someone else.” Spaces between rings of Saturn have names – I love the space between things and find this a fascinating concept. “I fell through existence.” “I counted all the moons and became friends with all the satellites.” Ella Jane Chappell Twitter – @ellajchappell Ella stood in with four hours’ notice. The fact all her poems were space or science-based was a happy coincidence for the space theme. I smiled at the rhythm of the phrase “fool-hardy carbon” and the poem ‘Hokum Sands’ where ‘thoughts only of the goodbyes we need to say, and the wind that will sweep them away’ and then, “She tastes of a note echoing in the hallway.” “A thunderstorm within a marble”. Jamie Spracklen I like the fact being told he couldn’t read made him a poet. I felt the rawness in these lines about anniversaries “navigating grief – The final tragedy which tattoos you,/Eternally, in some sort of frozen grace… Undone and naked/ By the sheer fragility/Of your final fire.” “I found your embrace again/ In the quiet of the unhurried sky”.
I arrived in Exeter late afternoon and checked into my accommodation. I was delighted to find I had been allocated The Brodie themed single room, with private Brodie bathroom and quotes and film posters on the wall and a copy of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in the bedside cabinet along with the bible. I read half of this book before checking out and had to buy a new copy on the way home to continue on the train! On arrival at The Phoenix all was fabric and pendulous sparkle as The Grand Witches prepared for a ball! I dragged myself away to host poetry in the room upstairs. Tom Sastry: started with a poem about filling the empty space of a new house “we can eat pizza from the box and test out the air-bed” because he is starting up anew poetry night and is thinking about how to fill the space with poets and audience, love and atmosphere. I loved the pace and dark humour of Complicity and best of all I could read it again on the train back on Sunday in the Best of 52. Read Complicity and other 52 poems here: http://ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/the%20very%20best%20of%2052.html Susan Jordan: described death as a ‘final thread reeling out of the goodbye they’ve been saying’ and ‘lurking in dark, he was badger, dust-scuffed and branch-strewn, sunrise turned him into a dazzled vole.’ https://www.facebook.com/clearpoetryuk/posts/509908402499783 Clare Hepworth-Wain: performed Bonnard is banished and I love the music in the lines “Creamy tiles/soured to beige./Pine panelling/shrunk to grain.” To read the whole of Bonnard is banished buy The Broadsheet here in October : http://www.thebroadsheet.moonfruit.com/ Hannah Linden: told us about a woman who “could take summat ugly/an ide it in Lancastrian” and then read poem The Stars Are Cherry Stones that Have Lost Their Colour. about her son and how “The idea/of no one counting up to the beginning of time frightens him”. Hannah Linden is hosting a night of 52 poetry at Swindon Poetry Festival http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/festival-program-2015-tickets-17467712398 Alasdair Paterson: In Pier Head, Liverpool is “a good place to get your heart broken and find a song to patch it.” In Nomenclature every line was quotable and the phrases “barely-dented laughter” and ” a willed dishevelment” were so fresh. http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poets/alasdair-paterson Matt Harvey: The speed, the timing and the humour in Prune Stone Oracle pulled us all in. After hearing Where earwigs dare where Matt ‘first went freelance, then gently feral.’ I want my own shed to go feral in. His time lapse love story with flowers was genius and reminded me of one of my favourite authors, Magnus Mills. The specific types of flowers were so carefully chosen. I love it when you can tell poets have gone out and done some research. http://www.mattharvey.co.uk/ Rebecca Gethin: Owlography is soon to come out in Three Drops from a Cauldron. Rebecca explained that maps look as if they are in the daylight…being white but an owl’s map would be of the night and therefore grey or black! ‘valleys of their anatomy, tours of their feathers’ ‘calls rip apart the vertebrae of stars pencilled on to the night of this map. www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com Gram Joel Davies: Gram opened with Oops, Sorry, a sex poem ‘this is exciting, like biting on lightning.’ His set continued with passion hinted at and blatant. In his rain poem, These threads are the singing: “the curse of being melts from you in torrents.’ and in Turn the Wheel and Look to Windward (T.S.Eliot): “Both mariner and miller/could reckon/this way of lacing work/with cords of air, its flavour/of minerals and grass.” http://gramjoeldavies.uk/ Simon Williams: Simon started with a Niels Bohr quote “Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.” And the one about Neann (the Neanderthal) at school was genius. ‘Though we don’t encourage it, she’s very good at wrestling.’ http://www.simonwilliamspoet.moonfruit.com/ Mark Totterdell: Mark’s poem Spinosaurus was luscious “all monochromes, skewed limbs, the whiff of glue” ‘what is long dead continues to evolve.’ Loved the descriptions Animal antics grey squirrels – ‘all scuttle and fluff’, wild boar ‘all snuffle and bristle’, beavers ‘all chisels and paddles’ and my favourite – lobster ‘tie-dyed t-shirt of chitin’. Many of the poets hung around in the bar to banter and admire the fabric and flair of the witches and drink ale. The following day there was a 52 gathering at a local pub. The blog about this will follow soon. I am off to read the last chapter of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
I had never been to Hull before and enjoyed a jaunt around the Arcades and the indoor market, complete with the Hull Wall of Fame including The Housemartins, Philip Larkin and others I knew of and surprisingly, to me, Reece Shearsmith. I found Ye Olde White Harte on Silver Street. A striking building built in 1550. The locals furnished it with stories too. From the man who was calling the doctor for an urgent appointment for heart palpitations with a pint in front of him, the man who was asking his wife if a cheque had arrive while ‘having a coffee’ (pint) to the three women who were happy to chat with me about the ghostly goings on in their respective workplaces – radios turning on, strange figures. In the evening it should have come as no surprise to me when two of the audience had to leave (due to emergencies) before the end of the first half and two performers left before I could pay them. Life was happening in stereo the day I visited Hull Alyx Tamminen: In her poem Fight Flight or Withstand about escaping an abusive relationship the woman was ‘not worth the air she was done breathing in’ and wanted ‘a home where her bones won’t break on the soil.’ No link. Wendy Pratt: In one of Wendy’s poems ‘the air span diamonds out of sea fret’ and she instructs you to ‘stop folding the sky through the creases of your skin.’ I loved the idea of mourning the phasing out of the fog-horns and the fact they could ‘lull a child to sleep from ten miles away’ and ‘the salt-code inside’ us. Pamphlet Nan Hardwick Turns into a Hare and her full collection Museum Pieces are both published by Prolebooks and her new one, Lapstrake is published by Flarestack Poets. https://wendyprattpoetry.wordpress.com/ Johanna Boal: Johanna read The Drowning, a revisited poem in response to Calais refugee news. Then she took us on a Hull Carnival ride. This poem is included in Johanna’s pamphlet Cardboard City published by Poetry Space. http://www.poetryspace.co.uk/2014/07/cardboard-city-by-johanna-boal/ Miki Higgins: The lines that struck me most were: ‘The floor he made from his jealousies and fears/The bars from empty promises’ and ‘There is no colour, there is no colour…The soul is a savage thing…’ No link. Anarchist Rob Eunson: I loved the line from What the world wants me to be about the ‘correct theatrical gesture – left hand over knitted brow to convey deep thought’ and the concise ‘we are all damaged inside. I think even you can see that.’ https://www.facebook.com/Anarchist-Rob-1572461979633677/timeline/ Carol Robson: The lines that struck me particularly were from Old School about ‘hard, but damn well happy times.’ the fact that Women’s Space in Spoken Word: ‘is genderless’ was Carol’s response to ‘space’ theme. www.carolrobson.com Sue Lozynskyj: ‘Let dance listen until the last note – rocks decorated by drops of pitch’. I love her instructions to ‘meet me at the nose of this cow a week on Friday. Bring Cake.’ I smiled at the dishing out of the flags and how one is bestowed for ‘the most imaginative use of seaweed’ and this takes the audience off in all directions in our heads. ‘There is nothing so musical as an ambulance siren when you know it is coming for you.’ http://tiferetjournal.com/poetry-corner-by-silent-lotus-april-2011/ Bernie Cullen: After the emergencies in the room ‘searching for connect and steady mode’ after a life upset felt right. Her tsunami poem was moving, especially the line ‘hair had been cut, teeth mended, your smile a little different’ and my favourite the line ‘a history of the world’s pain distilled to perfect complaint.’ Jim Higo: I love the rhythm of the line: ‘I’ve got a funeral suit and christening trousers’ and the sadness of the repetition in There is a man lost in the supermarket and he is shopping for one. The title line repeated as a kind of alarm call. Jim hosts Away with Words: https://www.facebook.com/events/1750316298528932/ Catherine Scott: Catherine performed Thanks for that, we’ll have that! poem about Greece ‘the rest of the world looked away, but still went there on holiday.’ and the poem about the miners’ family holidays in Rhyl. http://highonpoems.com/poet/catherine_scott The night was intense and for a gathering of a couple of dozen humans in a room there were a whole lot of emergencies going on with several audience having to leave early.
On arriving at the Hive I met Steve Wilson (after so many phone calls and emails in planning stages) who was taller and didn’t have the right colour hair for my phone vision. The Hive and Steve were brilliant hosts. I discovered the venue was unlicenced and decided to grab a pub lunch with a pint before the event, low on time my cheap B and B/pub agreed to bring it up to me at no charge. Height of sophistication fish and chips on my bed in pyjamas with Porridge on the TV. Catherine Crosswell: Catherine’s lively style that jumped between weird and dark and funny made her a perfect person to start the evening. Her tape measure that measures arms lengths is genius. She warns that ‘we will continue to auto-correct those who do not suspect/or believe.’ www.catherinecrosswell.co.uk Mike Alma: put beautiful postcards of war on chairs to accompany his devastating poems, particularly striking the line ‘before insanity ploughed the earth and devoured souls’. He enlisted audience member, Moira, for the second voice in Letters to a soldier at the front both poems are in Mike’s book, Fragments of the Great War. No link available. Nina Lewis: I loved her matching ears poem about her nephew ‘I am your auntie – the one with the matching ears.’ Your poem about music was glorious ‘Our emotions are carried on F sharps and B flats. I let you carry me on melody alone. Cello notes absorb the darkness.’ Nina Lewis You Tube www.awritersfountain.wordpress.com Jasmine Gardosi: Jasmine brought more weird and unsettling pieces (darker than Catherine). She performed a poem about writing in a night-club at the side of dance floor and broke up the sentences as if sound disturbance was doing this. I loved the idea of her beginning to ‘leave blueprints all over her left limb’ and the fact ‘she ignores the men as sticky as the floor – they would like to leave their digits on her wrist.’ – love the double use of digits here. I can safely say her take on the space theme to produce a piece about a family dying carbon-monoxide poisoning will probably be the only one. https://www.facebook.com/JasmineGardosiPoet and @jasminegardosi on twitter Neil Laurenson: Loved the way Neil came on after the strange storm that is Jasmine and kicked off with a gentle intro poem where ‘he was so softly spoken that they thought he was miming’ and he was going to ‘perfect his talent of being unheard’. The tone of Shrinking of Shrugs was delicious. It listed the small things a partner has done wrong and ends ‘the purpose of this lecture is to save our marriage.’ Henry Reed’s poem Naming of Parts is one of Neil’s favourites, he said it was a joy to mimic it in some way! http://herecomeseveryone.me/hce-meets-neil-laurenson-wenlock-2014-poet/ Adrian Mealing: I loved Adrian’s Number Ten zero hours cat and the rhythmic style that meant ‘you think by now I’d have a contract’ and the fact the cat playfully leaves a ‘message’. Adrian’s line in his Mum poem about having ‘nice neighbours and cheese omelettes’ amused me. What more could anyone want? He had left-handed version of a hedge-trimmer poem (after an accident). Genius. Link for Adrian & The Very Grimm Brothers is https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Very-Grimm-Brothers/193869703992330 Myfanwy Fox: In Myfanwy’s poem about her grandma: “Dolly Windmill won’t eat margarine/It tastes of despair in its greasy slide -/ there she blows! A slick of death/spreading on an oily tide.’ https://myfanwyfox.wordpress.com Claire Walker: Claire came in tough and told us we had to ‘Make me believe it/I want to see words on your lips’. Her mermaid poem was constructed of so many quotable lines I couldn’t record them all. ‘Don’t be fooled by my soft curves,/this tail carves the ocean with thoughts/that won’t be confined to land,’ and the line in Teaching your daughter to crack eggs ‘Tell her to remember not all broken things are wrong’ is going to remain with me for months. Beautiful and brief and knowing. Claire’s pamphlet The girl who grew into a crocodile is available in Autumn 2015 here; http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/our-poets.html www.clairewalkerpoetry.com Carl Sealeaf: I love ‘we won’t need scratched graffitti to know that we are here.’ Genius to capture the quietness in a ‘restaurant crowded with separate silences.’ and the fact you could ‘use silence against each other.’ Advice: ‘Find a good mirror, or still water or a good dance track’. http://www.pangaeapoetry.com/ Clive Dee: read us a trees and death poem ‘a wood is made of death and through that death we live.’ In Unfolding Wings these lines sang ‘Mountains and valleys crease the paper/to fold a base to make a bird/neck and beak tail and wings/sunken paper muscled back/a thousand folds for luck’. I continued my poetry weekend with a full day and night in Stratford for Jo Bell’s 52 group poetry picnic – the whole weekend felt like one massive poetry hug. Feedback I don’t usually include feedback in the blogs, but this was so glowing I had to: ‘Thanks for constructing a beautiful listening post, a room for hearts & ears where we enjoyed a rainbow of styles & subjects from Botany Bay to Chemistry Kevin. You set a little powder keg under the palm tree and encourage the evening’s castaways to light the fuse. It’s perfect. You’re terrific. You do a lovely job. My but you work so hard and affectionately at this game of the imagination.’ Adrian Mealing, The Very Grimm Brothers. Keep track of Quiet Compere Tour here https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Quiet-Compere/523455994408580 https://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/the-quiet-compere or on twitter @quietcomperemcr The Quiet Compere Tour is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
I could get used to having a committee of six (?) to plan for me. Caroline swapped a workshop (I came out with two strong pieces I have already performed) for a Quiet Compere t-shirt and drove me to get ale and to the venue. We arrived there ten minutes before doors to find the PA being set up and Antony on a book stall and a dozen people happy to help us set out tables and chairs (there was a detailed chair stacking diagram and 8 part instruction list that made me smile). Kim co-hosted beautifully and Mark morphed into the tenth poet at very short notice. As soon as we started there were complaints that the Quiet Compere was too loud. The mic was too loud, it was turned down and normal service was resumed. David Borrott: In his poem Wolf Fell, mountains were ‘air-fuddled in the distance’ and in Pigeons ‘pulling together to become a spun set of dancers…each giving way to the general pattern to become something more than themselves.’ we are treated to a pigeon dance. http://www.poetrybusiness.co.uk/shop/901/porthole Antony Christie: took us to a mythical house, Applegarth where we met ‘a threatening blackbird, stiff as a dowager’ and ‘last Autumn’s windfall sheds pale worms.’ His comment on the work that needed doing: ‘It is whole. That is all we can say.’ And in his Ontario poem: ‘the new ice sings to itself.’ www.antony-christie.com Neil Curry: I feel a gig has been a success if I go away having learnt something. Now I know Ulverston had foundry and rope makers. Sir John Barrow “wanted to be known/ as the man who filled in / those last little gaps in the Atlas” and I passed his Hoad monument both before and after the poem. From his poem Touch Wood : ‘Trees don’t even burn the same. / Some are generous with their heat / but give it out slowly…Nothing else on earth can be said to still look beautiful when it’s dead’ : www.neilcurry.com Kerry Darbishire: From Army Blanket which won first prize in Grey Hen poetry competition the concentration and affection in the line ‘fold it like a lover’s jumper’. There were a number of painting inspired poems and here was one about life-drawing called Posing for Andrew: ‘bearing stillness in failing sunlight’. Kerry’s collection is called A Lift of Wings and is available here: http://www.indigodreamsbookshop.com/#/kerry-darbishire/4586916905 Caroline Gilfillan: The line about her mother being ‘protractor angles of elbows and knees’ struck me as this is often what children feel like too. All edges and corners and awkward. In her poem Things he loved the line ‘eyes limpid with chalky loss’ shone out. Her two most recent collections are Yes (2010) and Pepys (2012) both published by Hawthorn Press. www.carolinegilfillan.co.uk Barbara Hickson: I enjoyed the contrast of ‘heather and bracken, smoke and song.’ in Traveller. At Loughrigg Tarn we are ‘like a reflection on a lake, one cloud and we’re gone.’ No link available. Maggie How: dedicated her set to her father and it was a beautiful and moving tribute ‘I am the sunlight on the bar-tops of trees… I weave thoughts with the evening mist’ The heart-breaking phrase ‘You smudge my heart with your art of dying.’ I also found out a lonning is a small country lane. No link available. Ayelet McKenzie: From BLACK MAGIC: The ‘night/creeps in like a black widow spider,/devouring the daylight /as she goes…to form a rainbow…/arcing over the wilderness of the earth,/this planet that will not stay for ever.’ Ayelet’s set was punchy and there were a lot of short pieces. No link available. Sue Millard: Wow! Lines from Driver’s Girl: ‘I will let you go, trusting/ the otherness that swallows you.’ ‘the road, the day/ and all its business claims you.’ http://www.suemillard.f9.co.uk/ Mark Carson: I loved poem Synaestheticae (first published in Brittle Star 2014). ‘This poem is written in oils, I have been adding layers since May.’ And in Canafy, lighten up! we get ‘the tapered ignition of the dawn’. Beautiful. No Link Available. Kim Moore’s wolf poem was one of my highlights of the evening. ‘No sound I make will still be made of words’ is a stunning line, much stronger than the phrase ‘speechless’! ‘the sound of their slow breathing fills her house.’ Kim lifted me up and carried me into the story. https://kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com/ A Poem and a Pint page is here: http://www.apoemandapint.co.uk/ Quiet Compere Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Quiet-Compere/523455994408580 ENTS24 page here for future Quiet Compere gigs: https://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/the-quiet-compere